Earlier this month, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein raised some eyebrows when he said no player on his team was “untouchable.” Of course, some media interpreted this statement as the Cubs are actively shopping All-Star third baseman Kris Bryant. Is that the case? Probably not, but a baseball genius like Epstein would be open to anything that could potentially make his team better.
So that got me thinking, Bryant and the Phillies would be a pretty good match if the Cubs ever felt they needed to reload. I highly doubt that will be this offseason, considering the Cubs won 95 games in 2018 with Bryant sidelined with injuries for a couple months. But, if the Cubs were serious about moving Bryant, the Phillies should definitely give a call to Wrigley Field.
Bryant is just two years removed from winning National League MVP at the age of 24. He had a great 2017 too, hitting .295 with 29 home runs and a 6.7 fWAR. As mentioned above, Bryant missed parts of 2018 with shoulder and wrist injuries, but still managed a .272 average with 13 home runs in 102 games.
He’d be a clear upgrade over Maikel Franco, who has more than likely played his last game in red pinstripes. He would also finally be the long-term answer the Phillies have been searching for at third base. They have not had a productive, steady third baseman since trading a disgruntled Scott Rolen to the St. Louis Cardinals in July of 2022.
Bryant has three years of arbitration left before entering free agency, that’ll take him to his age 29 season. He made $10.5 million last season. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors projects that he’ll earn $12.4 million in arbitration in 2019. That’s a steal considering Bryant is probably worth similar to what Bryce Harper is worth, and Harper will end up making upwards of $32 million each of the next 10 years.
The only way I even see the Cubs mulling the idea of trading a talent like Bryant is if they want to reload a weak farm system that they emptied through trades for Aroldis Chapman in 2016 and Jose Quintana in 2018. The Cubs would likely then go and sign Manny Machado to play third for them. The Cubs would almost certainly get Phillies top prospect Sixto Sanchez and maybe even 2018 first round pick Alec Bohm and/or 2017 first-rounder Adam Haseley. A controllable pitcher, such as Nick Pivetta or Zach Eflin, could be part of a deal. Scott Kingery could come into play if the Phillies hang on to Cesar Hernandez. Point is, there’s going to be a very high asking price, and rightfully so. They may turn the Phillies, and other possible suitors, off.
Of course, at the end of the day, the chance of this happening this winter is less than one percent. So the thought of the Phillies two-three-four hitters in 2019 being Bryant, Harper and Hoskins is a pipe dream.
Two years from now, when Bryant only has one year of arbitration left, this trade could actually make sense for both sides. If the Phillies still don’t have a long-term answer at third and the Cubs don’t have another title under their belt, they could opt to reload in fear of becoming what the post 2011 Phillies became. For now, it will likely be an idea that will have to stay in the imaginations of Phillies fans.
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